Monday, January 30, 2012
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
During the preparation for one of these write-ins, a group e-mail was circulated with ideas and suggestions for meeting places. One of our very own writers, Colleen, wrote that we should consider having one of our gatherings take place at Panera Bread. Colleen wrote, “I’ve been working there most Monday evenings.” This piqued my interest! I love Panera and wrote back to tell Colleen this.
Here is my confession: it took me an embarrassing amount of correspondence before I realized that Colleen was not working as a barista, a cashier or a “sandwich artist.” Nope. In fact, Colleen – who is a marvelous and gifted storyteller, I might add – was “working” on writing!
This is not the type of “work” in the sense that I believe most of us think of. You know, spending 40+ hours per week residing in Cubicle 107F, Soulless Mega Company, USA. This is work that is done out of passion, as a choice, not out of obligation or necessity to pay the electric bill. This is taking your writing seriously, realizing that it is “work” and should be honored and respected as such. It is realizing that in order to go from writer to published author, you must dedicate yourself and a portion of your time to this endeavor – in other words, work!
So I wonder, what type of work do you intend to do on your journey to publication?
Monday, January 23, 2012
But the biggest, most important thing is...we all have very strange senses of humor.
There's a white board that hangs in a corner in our living room. Half of said white board consists of a huge list of places we need to go or things we need to do. This was started due to the fact that Kathleen grew up in the tiny bubble of Newcomerstown, OH and hasn't experienced even HALF of what Columbus has to offer. The rest of the white board is filled with either inside jokes (many of which are either Harry Potter or Team Starkid related) or...stupid quotes. We say a LOT of stupid things in our apartment. And I'm fairly certain that, if need be, this white board will serve as dialogue inspiration sometime down the road.
Thus follows a very small selection of weird stuff heard around our apartment:
"Hi. Love me, please."
"Everything's funnier in a montage."
"I don't eat people's soul...I just nibble a little."
"Hey, it's Reformation Sunday! Let's go tack up some theses!"
"Wow. We've gone 24 hours without saying stupid shit."
"It's like a word I know in my head."
--"As opposed to your butt?"
Saturday, January 21, 2012
Saturday 9:15 AM
“Where are you going, Dad?”
“Upstairs to write for a while.”
“But we were gonna watch a family movie together.”
“Alright guys...I’ve seen this movie before and I need to get some writing done.”
“Hey honey, before you start writing, will you throw down the laundry from our bathroom and help me sort it real quick?”
I sit down in front of my laptop and suddenly remember that I haven’t checked my email or Facebook account in two days. I should probably make sure there’s nothing important awaiting my response. I wonder how Tim Tebow’s stats are fairing...
“Dad, Mom said it’s time for lunch.”
“Hey honey, where are you going?”
“Upstairs to write.”
“But you’ve been writing all morning!”
Does this sound like the conversations in your home (or in your head) every time you think about sitting down to write? Sure, every writer experiences the occasional supernoval flare of a new story idea; fingers cramping, struggling to keep pace with the deluge pouring from your neocortex. It’s only when your bladder threatens to drown you that you look down and realize two hours and four thousand words have passed and you really feel this time that you’re well on your way towards the next New York Times Best Seller!
The next day you wake up, full of excitement and energy at the prospect of another one or two thousand words, only to discover you’ve cranked out a meager one or two hundred because the job, the kids, the spouse, the housework, the laundry, the cell phone, the friends, the internet, the TV, the movie, the library, the bills, the errands, the dishes, and the ten thousand other things that compete for your time have robbed you of your goal. You climb into bed at night feeling drained, unfulfilled, and guilty because you failed to write anything substantial that day. You vow that tomorrow will be different. So today becomes tomorrow, tomorrow becomes this weekend, this weekend becomes someday. Why do we give in so often and for so long to those things that keep us from writing? There are lots of reasons. Let me share two big ones I feel encompass all the others.
First, we don’t feel like we should write. Given everything we must accomplish every day, we feel - at least on a sub-conscious level - that we can't make time for such “silliness” as story-telling. After all, it’s our day jobs that put food on the table and maintains the roof overhead. When we’re not working, children and spouses need attention and care. And let’s not forget the importance of maintaining or improving our health. All these priorities consume us and it’s easy to give in to that whispering voice at the end of the day as it beckons our wearied heads toward soft pillows, “Stories are for kids. You’re an adult now. Grow up. Be more responsible. Get a good night’s sleep before the craziness of tomorrow starts all over again.”
Trapped inside every adult is the little kid we used to be, the one who’s imagination fueled the dreams of a million undiscovered worlds. At some point we became adults and bought into a belief that “growing up” meant we had to deny that inner child. As adults, we still dream occasionally (if for no other reason than to reminisce about what dreaming used to feel like). We all long for a chance to escape from time to time. It’s why we’re so easily distracted. Distractions take us away, however briefly, from the mundane adult lives we’re now forced to lead.
Writing doesn’t make us any less of an adult and we shouldn’t feel guilty for giving voice to that inner-child. Just face it; that little kid is never going to shut up and go away! Besides, denying him means denying half of our own existence. Chances are that most of your fondest memories come from childhood. Take time to go back and talk with that kid every day. He can help you remember what things were like before you became so concerned about all the troubles in your life. Let him teach you how to dream again. Give those memories and dreams a voice and let them spill out onto the pages.
Another reason we become so easily distracted is because we don’t feel we can write. Whether you realize it or not, your life has been influenced by at least one book (or perhaps a movie adaptation) that changed how you thought or felt about life. For me, it was Tai Pan by James Clavell. One Saturday afternoon when I was fifteen, my grandmother and I were cleaning her attic when I found Tai Pan sandwiched between dozens of hardbacks inside some musty box. I finished the book in a couple of weeks and knew when I closed the cover that’s how I wanted to live my life. Did my life really turn out that way? Of course not! And although I’ve never read the book a second time, I can still vividly recall the adventure, the politics, and the intrigue that Clavell so exquisitely imprinted on my memory.
As I sit down in my writing sessions, I’m constantly comparing my work to James Clavell, Isaac Asimov, Larry Niven, Arthur Clarke, Octavia Butler (insert your own list of cherished authors here). Then I review what I’ve vomited onto the pages and think to myself, “What bile! No one’s ever going to be influenced by this!”
I’ve accepted that statement to be true insofar as I do nothing to practice my craft and hone my skills any further. Would I honestly expect an editor or agent to accept the first draft of my first story? Heck I don’t even like it! But what about my sixth revision or my hundredth story or my fifth novel?
It’s only through writing every day that we’ll get any better. It’s only through reading a lot of stories that we learn to distinguish the tripe from the truly inspirational. As I learn what’s good and what’s bad, I incorporate good techniques into my own stories. Eventually I find my own voice and my stories become amazing, if not to anyone else but me. Most importantly, I learn to write for myself.
Distractions are always going to bombard us every single day. When we get into a habit of writing for ourselves, writing because it’s healthy for us, writing because we know we’ll get better, writing to give voice to that imaginative inner child that won’t go away, then writing itself becomes the distraction from all the craziness surrounding us. It’s ok to escape for a while every day. In fact it’s very healthy to do so. Of course, your own personal circumstances will dictate when you can and can’t write. But I guarantee you can find at least an hour every single day to write if you really look for it and you’re serious about writing. Rid yourself of all the other unnecessary distractions in your life and focus on only one distraction - writing - for a little while every day.
Monday, January 16, 2012
Last week while homeschooling my fourth grader we learned about the Hag Fish. Although science is not my favorite subject one thing about this fish is very unique. When threatened, this fish vomits out two gallons of disgusting slime. Once the slime is out, this fish makes it's escape.
After reading this in his science book, of course my ten year old boy wanted to see this done, so we headed over to YouTube. That image is now forever embedded in my mind. If you're bored, hop on over to YouTube and type in Hag Fish...it really is kind of fascinating.
As for me? I still prefer English over science any day!
Friday, January 13, 2012
Here at Fiction Flurry, we're sharpening our pencils and gathering our notebooks (not really, we mostly use our computers, but it's a fun visual) in anticipation of February 1st.
Get your story ideas ready - if you've always wanted to write a novel, THIS IS YOUR CHANCE!
The concept is simple: 29 days, 50,000 words.
Can you do it?
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Monday, January 9, 2012
Why, yes. Yes, we are.
But before I explain our newest dose of insanity, I want to tell you about some exciting changes coming to the Fiction Flurry blog!
You may have noticed that over the past several months, we've tried numerous ways to post on this blog. We've talked about writing, we've talked about reading, and then we reverted to "we'll talk about whatever and post whenever and see what happens." The problem is...we've run out of things to talk about. And posting "whenever" doesn't work, because we're all easily distracted by shiny objects elsewhere in our lives and forget.
So what we're doing now is posting about "whatever"...but we're going to have assigned days! You'll be hearing from each of us, twice a month. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday or Saturday. And we'll be talking about whatever sparks our fancy at the time. And if we don't post? Well, Michele D has sworn to reap her vengeance on anyone who doesn't post on his or her assigned day...and, trust me, I've learned to believe Michele D when she makes threats.
You'll be hearing from me every other Monday (I know. Please try to contain your enthusiasm. It's quite unseemly).
But what is CoStoWriMo already?!
I'm so glad you asked.
Back in November, many of our members didn't have the time or energy or inspiration or what have you to pariticpate in National Novel Writing Month. But some of our Flurriers, well, NEED a writing month. So we've decided to put on "Columbus Story Writing Month" (or CoStoWriMo). It'll be happening this February and have the same basic rules of NaNoWriMo, but you'll just be tracking it yourself.
If you live in the Columbus area, we'll be hosting several write-ins around the city. Come hang out with the Flurriers and write! It'll be great fun.
But this is NOT just for Columbus people! If you live ANYWHERE you can participate with us! We'd love you to! We'd love you to comment on our Facebook page or @ reply us on Twitter or leave excitement here on the blog. This is open to ANYONE!!!
Questions? Exclamations? Joyous internet happy dancing? Feel free to leave them in the comments! We hope you can join us!
Monday, January 2, 2012
What I DID do was join a very friendly fitness website that is FREE! My Fitness Pal.com As an aspiring writer I tend to spend a lot of time sitting. You would think this wouldn't be a big deal since I'm also the mother of two little boys, 5 and 3, with enough stamina to put the energizer bunny to shame.
My resolution for 2012 is simply this: I want to become fit and active enough to keep up with my children.
I'm thinking this should be simple enough. I already chase, fetch, climb, & crawl after them as necessary. I should get faster as they do, right? Wrong. The more they can do for themselves the LESS I have to therefore the slower I seem to be getting. This point was driven home the day my oldest rode his bike without his training wheels. He got faster, a lot faster, in a matter of seconds. A curve loomed up ahead on the sidewalk, I saw disaster fast approaching and ran to grab his bike seat. I wasn't fast enough.
Thankfully, he didn't get hurt or scared but hoped right back on and took off again screaming "Let go Mommy!" But, the fear was already instilled in my heart. I hadn't been able to catch him. And as all good paranoid mommies do, I thought about bigger fears. What if a car stopped and a man jumped out to nab my small child? I would lose him because I had become to sedentary. Guilt swamped me.
Now, I realize my thought was a bit far fetched and reason has returned but I still want to be able to keep up with my boys. So, my husband and I have implemented a few small ways to tone and strengthen our fluffy frames. My Fitness Pal has wonderful and very easy tools that help you track your weight, measurements, food and exercise. You can put in as much or as little info as you want. My favorite function is the Track Food option. You can enter ANYTHING. I mean that. I typed in Knorr Pasta Sides and up popped every flavor they make. Easy peasy.
Another great site I use is Livestrong.com. I only use the mapping function because it is awesome. You input your starting location and up pops Google Maps. You trace your route and the system calculates the distance and calories burned. Amazing! We go on lots of walks and bike rides and something about tracking my progress keeps me accountable.
And lastly, we bought an Xbox Kinect. I have long sworn off video games for a myriad of reasons but we fell in love with this system. The games are entertaining and exhausting. My boys take naps again for crying out loud! How could I not love a product that resulted in wearing them out? Last night we played Just Dance 3. My husband showed off his stellar lack of rhythm. My boys, well, the oldest gave me a run for the lead score and the youngest he hopped until he collapsed onto the couch for a nap. Success all around!
I think I'm going to achieve my goal this year. How about you?